Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh
with Manus Lunny, bouzouki and guitar
Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh’s name is synonymous with what’s good in the music and culture of her native County Donegal, Ireland. Born in the Gaeltacht area of Gaoth Dobhair, where Gaelic was her main language, she learned her songs and tunes from her family and neighbors. Mairéad’s father, Francie Mooney, was a noted fiddler, song writer and school teacher and was her first main influence. Her mother, Kitty Rua was also raised in a musical house that held frequent house dances. It is no surprise, therefore, that both Mairéad and her siblings, Gearóid and Anna, all play music together.
In 1987 Mairéad and her late husband Frankie Kennedy formed Altan. The band went on to become one of the most acclaimed Irish traditional bands touring the world. Altan has headlined shows from Tokyo, the Sydney Opera House, the Hollywood Bowl to the National Concert Hall in Dublin. Mairéad has remained close to her roots, however; between touring she returns to her native Donegal to play, sing, and teach her music to a new generation. She was awarded the top recognition in traditional Irish music, the TG4 Gradam Ceoil’s Traditional Musician of the Year. Mairéad is also a member of String Sisters, which is a folk supergroup of six of the world’s leading female fiddlers, as well as “T with the Maggies,” which is a vocal group of Donegal singers comprising of Maighread and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill and Moya Brennan.
Mairéad will be accompanied by Manus Lunny (bouzouki and guitar). He was born in Dublin and reared in Newbridge, Co. Kildare in a family which practiced music regularly. He has been living in Co. Donegal for many years now, close to where his mother was born in Ranafast. He toured widely with Barry Moore (now Luka Bloom) as a teenager. He was a member of Scottish/Irish band The Wild Geese which toured Ireland and in Britain. After the band took a break, Lunny began to tour with Phil Cunningham and future long-term collaborator Andy M. Stewart. They toured as a trio to begin with before branching out into other bands. Manus is best known as a member of Celtic supergroup Capercaillie. Manus is a gifted instrumentalist, singer and composer and has earned a reputation as one of the most noteworthy performers from the Irish tradition, adding in a contemporary vein to the heritage of traditional music and song.